Friday, June 5, 2020

Mailbag: Relegation, Toronto expansion and my ideal hockey broadcast

Thanks to the assorted lockouts, every couple of years I try to get into European football when there are no NHL games to watch. Mostly, it doesn’t really last but I am kind of fascinated by the concept of relegation and occasionally wonder what that would look like in hockey. For all of the crazy ideas that you have thrown out there over the years, as far as I am aware, you have never written about relegation and I’d love to get your take on how that might work (or not work!) in the NHL.

– Mitch J.

Any time I do anything about ideas I’d like to steal from other sports – and I do that often – somebody will bring up relegation. I’m not a soccer fan, so I don’t have a strong grasp on how it all works, but based on my limited understanding, I’m fascinated by the concept. Every year, a team or teams at the bottom of the standings get banished to the equivalent of the minor leagues, while other teams are elevated to take their place. It adds an entire new level of drama to the race to stay out of last place. In hockey, if your team is terrible you might get rewarded with a new superstar in the draft. In soccer, you might get kicked out of the league.

Would I want to see that in the NHL? Are you insane? Of course not, I’m a Maple Leafs fan. Asking a Leafs fan if they support relegation is like asking a snowman if they support saunas. I’m not even going to pretend that I don’t know with absolute certainty how that would end up.

What is your all-time NHL commentary crew? Let’s go with PxP, color, between the glass, studio host and two or three studio analysts.

– Tyler A.

Hoo boy. OK, let’s stipulate that this is all based on my personal experience as a fan – I’m not trying to do some sort of objective leaguewide survey here. That said, my team is obviously going to start with Bob Cole and Harry Neale in the booth. Cole’s voice is the soundtrack to my hockey story, and I’m not sure he ever paired as well with anyone as he did with Neale’s dry wit.

Between the glass, I’ll take current-day Ray Ferraro. My host will be James Duthie, although I’d be happy with Ron MacLean too. And my analysts would be any of Bob McKenzie, Elliotte Friedman or Chris Johnston as the insider, Kevin Weekes or Mike Johnson as the former player/Xs and Os guy, and Brian Burke as the crusty old guy with stories. Mix in Jim Ralph doing the occasional comedy bit and every broadcast starting with a Tim Thompson montage and I’m a happy viewer.

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